Mlambo-Ngcuka enters race for ANC’s deputy presidency

Former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has tossed her name into the ring for the position of ANC deputy president, and she all but confirmed this week that she was approached to contest the position.

In the clearest indication of her willingness to enter the race, Mlambo-Ngcuka told Sunday World that part of the ANC’s renewal programme involves leadership diversity and remarked that the party’s deputy presidency has never been occupied by a woman.

“Women and young people should be represented in the leadership of the organisation. The position you are talking about has never been occupied by a woman.

“So, we know that the president will definitely be re-elected in the forthcoming conference, but it will be a no-no for him to be deputized by another male. Therefore, I agree that it’s high time we had a female deputy president.”

Mlambo-Ngcuka’s apparent endorsement of Ramaphosa to retain the party’s presidency also adds to swirling speculation that Ramaphosa’s faction is ready to drum up her campaign to deputize for the incumbent.

Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed that the ANC must search for a female deputy president in and outside the leadership of the ANC Women’s League, which is likely to be disbanded next week Friday.

Party spokesperson Pule Mabe announced this week that the party’s national working committee has appointed a task team consisting of Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Defence Minister Thandi Modise, among others, to look at the possibility of dissolving the league because its term of office has expired.

Mlambo-Ngcuka returned to the ANC after briefly joining the moribund Congress of the People, which was formed by party members who were unhappy with the organization’s decision to recall former president Thabo Mbeki from the Union Buildings in 2008,
before his term of office could expire.

This after he lost to former president Jacob Zuma at the ANC’s 52nd elective conference in Polokwane in 2007.

University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor Mlambo-Ngcuka is expected to compete with  ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile and Justice Minister Ronald Lamola for the coveted position when the ruling party holds its elective conference in December, where Ramaphosa is expected to bid for a second term as party president.

Current party deputy president David “DD” Mabuza has also not ruled out trying to retain the position while Minister of Human Settlements Mmamoloko Kubayi is said to be also readying herself to throw her hat into the ring.

Ramaphosa is expected to face stiff challenge to retain the presidency from Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu,  who is believed to be leading an aggressive campaign to unseat him as ANC president, which she believes will pave the way for her to become the country’s first female president.

News that Mlambo-Ngcuka has thrown her name into the hat was revealed by a senior ANC member who attended a caucus meeting held in her offices in Waterkloof, Pretoria last weekend.

“The general feeling is that it’s high time the deputy president position is given to a woman with impeccable struggle credentials and high standard leadership qualities. But if you look around at the moment there is no credible female who can deputise  [for] Cyril,” said the member.

Another ANC member confirmed that Mlambo-Ngcuka had reluctantly agreed to contest the position after being persuaded to do so.

“You would have seen that she has been a guest speaker at many lectures, which were organised in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. That was part of her campaign strategy, and you are now going to witness more of that before the December conference.”

“I have been applying my mind to this but you know in the ANC you don’t say no when you are given certain responsibilities or deployed to certain positions because that will amount to ill-discipline,” Mlambo-Ngcuka  said.

Political commentator Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said Mlambo-Ngcuka is an experienced leader who became the first female deputy president of the county after Zuma was fired from Mbeki’s cabinet in 2005.

“You can tick so many boxes about her. The question is who is cleaner than her in the ANC?

“Desperate times call for desperate measures. Is there anyone who is cleaner?

“She held many senior positions, even recently as a former United Nations official, serving as the executive director of UN Women with the rank of under-secretary-general,” he said.

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